Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo hints at conspiracy after Barcelona defeat

Cristiano Ronaldo was furious with the referee, Alberto Undiano Mallenco, and suggested he should not be allowed to officiate another clásico after Sunday night's 4-3 victory for Barcelona at the Bernabéu.

"The referee made some incredible decisions but we have to carry on," said Ronaldo. "In a Real Madrid-Barcelona game you have to have a referee who is up to the task," the 29-year-old added. "I don't want to use the referee as an excuse but if you analyse the 90 minutes there were a lot of mistakes."

Ronaldo even suggested that some people with influence, whom he did not identify by name, had wanted Real to lose and the referee had not been entirely objective. "Real Madrid is the greatest club and there is a lot of envy around it," he said. "It's tough because a lot of people did not want us to win and Barcelona to be out of the title race. They probably do not want Real to win this league. It makes me think that you don't only win matches on the pitch but also with a little bit of help from outside."

Real now need to regroup for Wednesday's game at Sevilla, when Barça host Celta Vigo and Atlético Madrid are at home to Granada.

Meanwhile Lionel Messi, who lost his World Player of the Year crown to Ronaldo earlier this year, took sweet revenge on Sunday by upstaging the Portuguese forward with a hat-trick.

Messi, World Player four times in a row before Ronaldo scooped his second award, levelled a dramatic el clásico at 2-2 just before half-time with an opportunistic strike through a crowd of Real defenders. He then kept his cool to net two second-half penalties, including the winner six minutes from time, blowing the Spanish title race wide open.

The defeat left Real, who had their captain, Sergio Ramos, sent off midway through the second half – the 19th of his Madrid career – and city neighbours Atlético Madrid tied at the top on 70 points. Barça, chasing a fifth La Liga title in six years, closed the gap to one point and sit third with nine games left.

"It was an extremely important win for us," Messi, who missed two months of the season with a thigh injury but has been in scintillating form since his return in January, told reporters. "It was a brilliant game for the fans and for us," added the 26-year-old Argentinian. "This team always responds on the big occasions but we have to continue. We cannot be satisfied with this win. We have to forget what happened quickly and focus on the future."

Messi's treble put him clear in the list of top clásico scorers on 21 goals, three ahead of Real great Alfredo Di Stéfano. He also moved up to second in the ranking of all-time leading La Liga marksman on 236 goals, two ahead of former Real striker Hugo Sánchez, and he is fast closing in on record scorer Telmo Zarra, who netted 251.

Messi was quick to downplay his personal achievements and keep the focus on the team. "The most important thing is that we won the match," Messi said. "Things are going well for me individually but what we should remember is the great performance of the group. We are closer to the leaders. We have to keep this up until the last match. There are very few games left and we cannot afford any more mistakes."



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